I have had numerous rewarding experiences as a Tribute Artist and I would like to share some of those special moments with you.
I first saw Elvis on TV when I was 9 years old. I consider this my first rewarding experience. He was dynamic and I could tell that even at age 9. I thought it would be “really cool” to be like him. And so my work began…
My very first time as a performer was for my high school. With my handmade jumpsuit and well-practiced act, I made my way on stage and got a taste of what it was like to be somehow famous. The audience went crazy and I was hooked. I continued to get involved in every “Elvis-related” thing I could. I made my way to Memphis, sang at Graceland and the area clubs. I won a few contests along the way. I sang with the Jordanaires, which I know many ETAs have mentioned as a special moment. And I must say that it truly was. It’s about as close to Elvis as any of us will ever be. What a wonderful group they are and how fortunate we all are to have that exposure. Later came commercials, radio spots, and my venture to Los Angeles and finally landing where I make my home now, Las Vegas, Nevada. I am blessed to be working at one of the finer hotel/casinos, where I perform 5 days a week. I have been fortunate to have met some wonderful people along the way. Even the Canadians know who I am these days!
It has been valuable to me to always keep in mind that Elvis was a generous and humble man. He performed for the love of people, not for the love of himself. It is important to lend your talents to charity work when you can-to help those less fortunate that yourself.
I have been lucky enough to become friends with a courageous man named Spencer Shiffman. At the age of 24, he was diagnosed with 2 types of cancer and was forced to undergo five surgeries, several of which were life threatening. In 1997, Spencer was told that he had 6 months to live. Today, he is planning his second annual golf tournament for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation and continues to motivate cancer patients and survivors. He is healthy, happy and a constant inspiration to me and to many others. But let me tell you the real story:
I was asked to perform for this “extremely ill person” diagnosed with cancer. There were very few details given to me, so of course my mind raced with various scenarios I should be prepared to deal with upon meeting him. Was he coherent? Was he in a bed on life support? I had no idea. But I prayed that I would handle it and that the job would go well–thinking mostly about my well being, not so much about this terminally ill person.
I walked in and Spencer sat there on the couch looking so tired and frail. It was heartbreaking to see a man my age who was once so full of life, barely able to function. But he did…we sang together. He was able to stand up and do some Elvis moves with me and by the end of the evening, he was truly my friend. I don’t know of any moment in my career more special to me than seeing his smiling face that night and watching him get up off of his couch. It had been the first time he stood up in months. I share this quote from Spencer:
“To the closest thing to the King ever! Paige, you helped inspire me to live, to fight for my life, to inspire other Cancer Patients/Survivors to believe that the word "D" doesn't come after the diagnosis of "C"! Thank you for coming to see me at a time I needed true inspiration and motivation. I felt like I was with the "King" himself, but realized I was with a good person and friend and of course, an incredible Singer and performer! TCB - Spencer”
The point of this story is that often times there are jobs we don’t feel like doing, people we don’t want to see. We are tired. My friends, you don’t know tired until you go through an ordeal such as Spencer’s. Always remember that whatever frustration or unhappiness you may have, there is someone who may have more. Always do your best. You don’t know who you might be helping in the process.
As I mentioned, Spencer’s second annual golf tournament for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation will be held on August 2nd. I was lucky enough to be asked by my friend to perform with comedian Craig Shoemaker and Brad Garrett from “Everybody Loves Raymond”. It will be another very rewarding experience for me thanks to a very special person.
Finally, I would just like to say that I am proud to be part of a quite large group of individuals who are dedicated to keeping the memories and music of Elvis Presley alive today. Remember that the only person who deserves to be called “Number 1” is the man himself. Support one another, be kind and always bear in mind the good and gracious “King” that you are representing. Cherish every moment that you have as a Tribute Artist. We are part of a unique group. Take what you do seriously, but do not let it take you over. Be the good and real person that Elvis was. If he were here today and saw what you do, what would he say? Make the man proud.